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Meet Sandrine Gimon Senior Winemaker at Rymill Coonawarra

At Wine Selectors, we recently enjoyed the company and expertise of Rymill Coonwarra Senior Winemaker, Sandrine Gimon, who joined us as a guest Panellist to assist in selecting some new wines for members.

French born, Sandrine studied winemaking at the University of Science in Reims, and completed her internship at Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin in Champagne prior to graduating in 1998 with a Diplôme National d’œnologue. Her first job was a consultant winemaker in Entre-Deux-Mers, Bordeaux, and she then travelled extensively, working in Europe and Australia.

She joined Rymill Coonawarra in July 2005, and was appointed Senior Winemaker in November 2008. Sandrine recognises Australia’s innovative approach to winemaking as a perfect environment in which to pursue her winemaking goals. She lives in historic South Australian township of Penola, with her husband Jordan with their two boys Raphael and Marius.

We asked Sandrine what is so special about Coonawarra.

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Bleasdale's Paul Hotker Loves Wine - And Bacon!
The  Bleasdale Frank Potts Cabernet Blend 2013  is our May Wine of the Month, so we caught up with Bleasdale's senior winemaker Paul Hotker. Can you recall the first wine you tried? I can't remember any specific bottle, does Stone's Ginger Wine count? There was always wine at the table growing up, plenty of West Oz Cabernet as I grew up in Perth, and  Eden Valley   Riesling, I still drink these wines. When did you fall in love with wine?   I remember drinking some beautiful  Rutherglen Muscat  in my early 20s, as well as cellared Bordeaux and  Margaret River Cab  - wines that probably set me on the path to the wine business. Do you have an all-time favourite wine? I'm not usually one for favourites, but Hugel 1989 SGN Gewürztraminer was an unexpected gem in a tutored tasting about 15 years ago, and I got to take the leftover bottle home. What is your all-time favourite wine memory (other than a wine itself)? Sharing great bottles with friends and family and those who appreciate it is always fun. Most recently, my last bottle of 2001  Semillon  made at uni (good but not great) served blind with the mates who made it 16 years ago. We drank far better wine after this prelude to dinner.   Other than your own wine, what is the wine that you like to drink at home? I drink widely, but also seasonally. Late summer and into autumn usually  Pinot Noir , Grenache and blends, mature whites - aged  Riesling ,  Chardonnay   and Sancerre. Later autumn and into winter, mature reds and whites. As spring and summer come along, younger whites and reds with vibrancy:  Riesling , Traminer,  Sauvignon Blanc  and blends, younger  Shiraz , Cab Merlot blends, etc. What's your ultimate food + wine match? Roast chook and Chardonnay, always a favourite, particularly during vintage. What's your 'signature dish'? I don't have a signature dish, it depends on the season. Roast pork with redgum smoke I make at all times of the year, I love the challenge of 100% crackle! Very keen on the flame grill, just about anything: beefsteak, lamb chops, butterflied chicken, and I love slow cooked meals in winter: roast chook, osso bucco, boeuf bourguignon are all perfect with mature reds. What is special about your wine region? Langhorne Creek  is a cool maritime but dry region with beautiful clay and limestone soils. The cool ripening period moderated by Lake Alexandrina and The Southern Ocean maintains the aromatics and natural acidity How do you relax away from the winery? I'm a keen reader, I love cycling through the  Adelaide Hills , which is on my doorstep. I like playing board games and puzzles with the family: chess, scrabble, UNO, snap, just about anything. Do you have a favourite holiday destination/memory? I love Kangaroo Island, easy to get to from here and great to slow the pace down a few notches. What is your favourite book? No favourites, but I just finished the  Harry Potter  series, couldn't put it down. Movie? No favourites, but I prefer independent films, I recently saw Paterson , which was a cracker, as was  Drive . TV show? The Fast Show. Beer? Wine. Restaurant?   Locally, The Olfactory Inn at Strathalbyn is excellent. Breakfast? Can't go past bacon and eggs, everything tastes better with bacon. Lunch? BLT, everything tastes better with bacon. Dinner? Roast pork, that's close to bacon, right?
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Meet Anthony Woollan of Nocton Vineyards
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Under pressure - Wine VS Mine
Words by Max Allen on 21 Dec 2016
Winemaker Andrew Margan is standing on a rock on a ridge overlooking his vineyard at Broke, in NSW’s Hunter Valley . The landscape is idyllic: vine rows plunge down the hillside; Wollombi Brook curls through the middle distance; tree-covered ranges rise up steeply behind. He’s talking about how different this country could have looked had energy company AGL got its way. “If CSG (coal seam gas) mining had gone ahead here as AGL were planning,” says Margan, “there could have been 300 wells sunk between here and Pokolbin.” Just five years ago it seemed that CSG was a foregone conclusion in the Hunter wine region. A couple of exploratory wells had already been sunk, not far from Margan’s vineyard at Broke, and AGL were attempting to ingratiate themselves with the local winemakers - buying vineyards, sponsoring a local winemaking scholorship, joining the wine industry association. But the local winemakers were having none of it. They had serious concerns about the environmental impact of CSG mining. They worried that hydraulically fracturing - or “fracking” - deep coal seams to release the gas could contaminate the local aquifer and lead to geological instability. And they were outraged that, under then-current legislation, the miners would be able to drill among the vineyards and wineries of the country’s leading wine tourism destination. As fourth generation winemaker Bruce Tyrrell told me at the time: “It’s simple. If any of those bastards come onto the land my family have owned for 150 yrs I’ll bloody shoot ‘em. And I’m still a good shot.” Eventually, the vignerons’ well-organised protest campaigns - including a high-profile march on the NSW Parliament in 2012 - helped encourage the state government to declare the viticultural and equine industries in the Hunter off-limits to CSG mining: boundaries were drawn around these two newly-declared Critical Industry Clusters that prevented any further resource exploration. “We won,” says Andrew Margan. “But it was a hell of a fight.” “The CSG battle almost destroyed us,” admits Andrew’s wife Lisa Margan. “Having to take on such a big issue like that fractures the community, it pulls resources out of the community, it exhausts the community.” ----- The Hunter isn’t the only wine region to have tussled with unconventional gas mining in the last few years. Just before Christmas 2013, resource company Beach Energy sank its first exploratory shale gas well just south of Penola, the main town in the famous wine region of Coonawarra , in South Australia’s Limestone Coast. I visited the region during vintage 2014, a couple of months later, and witnessed that first rig being moved to a second exploratory site west of the main vineyard area. It’s only when you see one of these installations up close - or as close as security will allow - that you get a feel for how much the landscape is affected and what impact dozens or hundreds of such wells would have on the nature of a region: temporary roads carved through paddocks, the four-storey rig itself, the holding ponds dug into the earth to retain contaminated water, lights and sound running 24 hours a day, seven days a week. “I just can’t envisage co-existence with a gas well like that next to my cellar door,” said Dennis Vice of Highbank, one of Coonawarra’s leading wineries as we watched another truck loaded with drilling equipment roar by. “How can anyone argue that industrialized gas extraction can sit comfortably alongside wine - a brand that’s based on clean green production? Even if they do put a well in and I’m forced to sell, my vineyard would be worthless because of that rig. The implications for landowners are immense.” During the same visit, local vineyard manager Stuart Sharman, chair of the Limestone Coast Grape and Wine Council’s unconventional shale gas committee, detailed his deep concerns about shale gas extraction - a process that, like CSG mining, involves drilling down through the aquifer and using large amounts of local water in the process. “We don’t have a lot of confidence that the miners can give us an iron clad guarantee that well integrity will be maintained,” he said. “We know that the wells break down over time - their own documents show that. And (energy company) Santos has just been fined for contaminating the acquifer with uranium up in the Pilliga. If our vineyard irrigation water here becomes contaminated we can kiss goodbye to our sector of the economy: the Coonawarra brand and the whole district will be tarnished.” When I spoke to him again for this article, Sharman told me the pressure has eased. Not long after my visit during vintage in 2014, Beach Energy announced they had decided to concentrate on conventional gas extraction, and not in close proximity to the vineyards. The level of exploratory drilling I witnessed had “slowed right up”. But Sharman says it’s the slowdown in the energy market at the moment that’s contributed to the change of heart, not necessarily the very vocal opposition of the vignerons. “Depressed energy prices are slowing up further expectations,” he says. “It’s just not worth the miners’ while to go to the effort of unconventional gas extraction right now. But I think what we’re seeing is probably a lull, not the end. I imagine it could well ramp up again if the situation changes.” ----- It’s a similar story in the Hunter. Yes, says Andrew Margan, with the declaration of the Critical Industry Clusters, winegrowers have had a reprieve. And yes, AGL announced earlier this year that they were pulling out of CSG in NSW. But the state government hasn’t reversed its stand on CSG overall: the exploratory and mining licences haven’t been revoked. So if - when - the economic climate and the political balance shift, the pressure may build once more to start extracting precious hydrocarbons in the heart of wine country. And if that happens, says Stuart Sharman, there will always be a conflict between the short-term gain of the energy companies and the long-term sustainability of the winegrowers. “In the wine industry we’re busy spending millions of dollars redeveloping vineyards and setting ourselves up for another 50-plus years,” he says. “The mining guys are very publicly saying they’ll only be here for 20 years. But what’s it going to be like - what’s the impact not only to the physical environment but also the social environment - when they walk out in 20 years time and we’re still here.”
Two Blues Sauvignon Blanc 2014
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